STORE SPACES

Eataly drops anchor in Los Angeles

BY Marianne Wilson

Upscale Italian marketplace Eataly has opened its largest location to date and first on the West Coast.

Eataly L.A., resigned by Studios Architecture and built by Clune Construction Company, is located at the newly renovated Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles. The three-story, 67,000-sq.-ft. space includes four restaurants, multiple kitchens, nine take-away food counters, a cooking school, extensive retail, and two chilled wine storage rooms. Two interconnected spiral staircases link all three floors.

The project included the construction of a clean room designated for the on-site preparation of gelato and mozzarella. Customized pasteurizers were installed to replicate the authentic taste of gelato and mozzarella from Italy.

Eataly L.A. was designed by Studios Architecture and built by Clune Construction Company. It is the fifth Eataly in the United States, and 39th globally.

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Sears’ CEO gives rare interview—here are some highlights

BY Marianne Wilson

Eddie Lampert, the reclusive chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Corp., has given a rare interview (to Vanity Fair) in which he discusses everything from his decision to manage his embattled company from a distance as to why he chose to invest in Sears’ online business as opposed to its stores.

Here are some highlights from the article, which author William Cohan calls Lampert’s first one-on-one first-person interview in 15 years.

• Lampert, who lives in Florida, dismissed criticism that he rarely visits Sears’ headquarters (some say only once a year, for the annual board meeting), and said he is a big believer in handing over power to his management team.

“There are cultures where people work from home, and they still get things done,” he said. “The ability to trust people, the ability to empower people, that’s the model.”

• With regard to the merger of Sears and Kmart in 2005, Lampert believed that Sears and Kmart were differentiated enough from Walmart to be complementary, not competitive. Lampert said he invested a lot of capital in Kmart stores, but did not get a return on his investment.

“I’m not sure Kmart on its own could ever be a great retailer,” he says. “But you put Kmart and Sears together, in combination they had a chance … Kmart had the locations and Sears had the brands.”

• In recent years, the company has been heavily criticized for the deteriorating condition of Sears and Kmart stores. Lampert defended his decision to target his capital on improving customers’ online experience rather than on the in-store experience.

“I could have put a lot of capital in a Kmart or Sears store and it could look like Bloomingdale’s or it could look like Saks, but we didn’t have access to products that would be consistent with that,” he said. “In other words, if I built an equivalent of Nordstrom’s, it’s not like all of a sudden Nike would be selling to us.”

On the other hand, Lampert believed the company had a better chance of competing with retailers like Nordstrom and Saks online than in stores.

“I did believe that people are going to be one click away from the best possible experience, the cheapest price, and whatever product they want,” he said. “And I could have a better website than Nordstrom’s. I could have a better website than Bloomingdale’s. In other words, I don’t need to invest in fixtures, but I do need to invest in the features and the experiences.”

• Lampert did not sugarcoat Sears’ current situation.

“We’re fighting to survive — that’s pretty clear,” Lampert said. “I believe in what’s possible, and we’re doing things that are necessary to keep the company going …. It’s definitely not just humbled me, but it’s expanded my awareness of real issues that exist in our society…. I feel like I can make a contribution by being involved, O.K.?”

• He still holds out hope.

“If I didn’t believe that this company could be transformed still — the window is definitely shrinking — but if I didn’t believe that, I would try to take a different path,” he said.

To read the Vanity Fair article, click here.

 

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STORE SPACES

First Look: The new story at Story is about…

BY Marianne Wilson

There’s a new story at Story — the retail outpost in downtown Manhattan that reinvents itself with a new theme every couple of months — and this time it’s about work as well as retail.

For the next five weeks, Story is not only a store, but also a modern work space with complimentary private offices and shared spaces for people to work. And Wi-Fi is included.

For the duration of the installation, people can reserve a single working space at Story by going to the brand’s online site. Booking are available from 11-6.

There are also common areas, including a salon area complete with Starbucks Reserve coffee, which are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Story’s founder Rachel Shechtman called it a “transactional co-working space.”

The entire environment was designed by Blu Dot, which provided an extensive range of furnishings throughout. Blu Dot co-founder Maurice Blanks called the company’s collaboration with Story “a great opportunity to be part of an interesting conversation about what the future of work might be.”

The overall space is broken up into several different areas, starting with The Gallery, which features an exclusive assortment from London’s The School of Life, a resource for teaching companies and individuals about emotional intelligence. After the gallery is The Salon, a purely social space, with coffee (Starbucks Reserve), magazines, and games.

Next is The Office a regular office with desks, a conference table, and white boards. Visitors can also interact and engage with Samsung’s Flip interactive whiteboard, which is making its New York City debut at Story.

The next room, The Library, includes over 200 curated titles by leading business thinkers and authors, and some rare titles of organizational design and cultural transformation.

The final room, The Chamber, is described as the heart of the space and is designed for deep work. It’s made up of small rooms that allow for maximum focus on work with no possibility of interruption. To help arm folks with self-care tools and tricks that support such a focus, Arianna Huffington has curated an assortment of select merchandise from her Thrive Global online site.

Story said its new installation is intended to explore the future of work “as it relates to how and where we work.” It teamed up with Aaron Dignan, author, and founder of The Ready, on the concept.

For more slideshows, click here.

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